Report: Spurned New York officials begging Amazon and Jeff Bezos to rethink HQ2 reversal

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Long Island City, the Queens neighborhood that almost became home to a large Amazon presence. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is doggedly trying to convince Amazon to resume plans to build a massive office in the Queens borough of New York City.

Cuomo has personally appealed to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to a Thursday report by The New York Times. A business group also plans to run an open letter to Amazon as an advertisement in the Times on Friday. It promises “Governor Cuomo will take personal responsibility for the project’s state approval.” New York politicians, CEOs, and labor leaders signed onto the letter.

How we got here: Last November, Amazon announced plans to build a 25,000-40,000-person office in Queens as one-half of its vaunted HQ2 sweepstakes. On Valentines Day, Amazon pulled out of the deal, blaming a vocal group of opponents who vowed to fight it. The Seattle-based tech giant was eligible for a $500 million state grant and more than $2 billion in tax incentives in exchange for the promised job creation.

Cuomo’s plea: In his appeals to Amazon, Cuomo brought up polls that showed a majority of New Yorkers supported the deal, despite the “vocal minority” that snatched up headlines. “We know the public debate that followed the announcement of the Long Island City project was rough and not very welcoming … but when we commit to a project as important as this, we figure out how to get it done in a way that works for everyone,” the open letter to Bezos says.

Will it work? Probably not. Amazon acknowledged the favorable polling when it announced that it was pulling out, showing that it isn’t interested in fighting despite support from a majority of New Yorkers. The company has burned through some serious political capital on this deal and hasn’t given any indication that it will reverse course.

Yes, but: As the Times notes, there is one significant change since Amazon called the deal off. State Sen. Michael Gianaris, a vocal opponent of Amazon’s New York plans, had been named to an oversight board with the authority to torpedo the deal. His appointment has since been withdrawn.

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